When Irvine poet Mitsuye Yamada was invited to collaborate with painter Karen Wheeler on an "Imaginarium" performance mixing art and language, Yamada suggested a desert theme.
"There's much more to the desert than we first see," said Yamada, an English professor at Cypress College who also is the current poet-in-residence at Pitzer College in Claremont. "It's not aggressive; it looks static and strange. (Desert) animals don't fit our concept of beauty. But if you study them, they are beautiful, and so intricate."
Yamada hopes that children who attend "Imaginarium" Saturday at the Mercantile Building in Santa Ana will sense the similarity between this "different," yet valuable landscape and people who appear different and are sometimes valued less than others, such as the disabled, the elderly and people of various ethnic groups.
During a recent planning session for their performance, Wheeler and Yamada, a soft-voiced woman of 65, spread an armload of picture pamphlets about the desert on the painter's kitchen table. As Wheeler sketched, Yamada read her poems.